LOVE AND NO MARRIAGEROBERTA LEIGHMILLS AND BOONLOVE AND NO MARRIAGEROBERTA LEIGHCHAPTER ONESamantha set her pen down beside her drawing board and slowly stood up. If she moved quietly and carefully she might beable to control her nausea until she reached the cloakroom. She walked to the door of her office and tried to turn the handle. Her handswere so damp that it slithered between her fingers. A quicker, more desperate attempt and the knob turned, allowing her to step outinto the corridor. The cloakroom was only a few yards away, but the walk seemed never-ending. Her nausea grew worse and sheclutched at her throat and tried to quicken her pace.'Miss Gardner!'Her secretary was calling her, but Samantha ignored it.'Miss Gardner!' the voice called again. 'There's a call for you from the States. Shall I put it through to your office or ask them to ring back?'A call from the States. Samantha forced herself to stop. She was expecting to hear from her New York office, and theywould think it strange if she was not available. She opened her mouth to say she would only be a moment, but though her lips moved,no sound came out.'Are you all right, Miss Gardner?' Her secretary was beside her, her freckled face anxious.'I'm fine,' Samantha managed to croak out the words, then with a gulp she dashed for the cloakroom.Fifteen minutes later she emerged, composed but pale. Her magnolia skin had lost its normal creamy tinge, and had a blue-white transparency that emphasised the fragility of her appearance. She was a small girl, an inch over five feet, with a brittle- boned look that gave no indication of her phenomenal energy and drive. Many people, seeing her for the first time, took her to be a ballet dancer, for she had the same lightness of movement. But a brief conversation with her showed her to be a strong-willed businesswoman who knew how to organise and control her own considerable talents.Tottering back to her office, she collapsed on to the leather settee normally reserved for visitors, and doubted whether shewould ever be able to control anything again. With quiet desperation she wondered if the four years of intense work she had donesince leaving fashion school had exhausted her to the point where recovery was impossible.She imagined herself living in a cottage in the country, miles away from people and noise, where all she need do was eatand sleep. It was a life that beckoned with enticing fingers, and she closed her eyes and succumbed to the fantasy. She was onlyvaguely aware of her secretary fluttering around, and of her assistant, Carol McLean, coming in to look at her and then marching outagain without uttering a word of sympathy.I don't deserve sympathy, Samantha thought ruefully. Doc warned me not to start work so soon. 'Flu always leaves youfeeling grotty.She must have drifted off to sleep, for a brusque voice jerked her awake, and she looked up to see Doctor Fergus-songlowering at her.'And what have you been doing to yourself?' he demanded, 'apart from everything I told you not to do?''That's what I've been doing,' Samantha quipped, her husky voice huskier than usual. 'I was a bit under the weather today,'she went on, 'but I'm fine now.''You look,' he said dourly, 'like a glass of skimmed milk that's been standing too long.''It sounds delicious,' Samantha said.'I'm not joking, girl. Lie still while I have a look at you.''There's nothing wrong with me,' Samantha protested. 'Carol shouldn't have called you. I suppose it was her?''It was,' the doctor replied. 'Now keep quiet.'His examination was slow and thorough, which Samantha found surprising, since he had seen her in his surgery only twoweeks ago. But he was acting as if he hadn't examined her for months, taking her blood pressure, listening to her heart, peering intoher eyes and feeling her neck and throat with probing fingers.'Well?' she asked, when he finally settled back in his chair, a portly, middle-aged man with alert eyes.'Not at all well,' he replied. 'You should never have started work so soon.''But I felt fine, and I was at home for ten days.''It should have been twenty. Now it will have to be forty, maybe fifty.''That's impossible!''So is your continuing to work at this pace. If you don't want a complete collapse you must have a complete rest.''Oh, come on, Fergie,' Samantha chided, and stood up. 'I feel marvellous—look!' She held out her hands to show him howsteady they were, and he caught one and prised her fingers apart.'A complete rest,' he repeated. 'Even if your assistant hadn't called me, I was coming to see you today. I had the results of your tests, and want to talk to you about them.''Stop trying to frighten me,' Samantha said lightly. 'I know I've been overworking, but as soon as I've got this newAmerican order completed, I'll take a long holiday. Did you know I've been asked to design a whole range for—''It will be the last range you ever design,' the doctor cut in blundy, 'unless you sit down quietly and listen to me.''But—''Sit down and listen,' he repeated.There was no twinkle in his eye, which was unusual for Dr Fergusson, and Samantha knew he was worried. She had onlyseen him like this once before: six years ago when he had told her that her mother did not have long to live.'I know I've been pushing myself too hard,' she said. 'And I really will take a month off as soon as I can.''Make it three months, and make it now. You've been overdoing things ever since you left college, and your body is tellingyou it's had enough.''But I love my work,' she protested. 'I enjoy every minute of it.''You're wise to count your time in minutes,' he replied.Blankly she looked at him. She did not feel desperately ill, yet Dr Fergusson would not talk to her like this unless he believed there was something seriously wrong.'Your blood pressure is erratic and your heart rate fluctuates,' he went on. 'You have signs of an incipient ulcer and—''No more!' she cried. 'You've made your point. What do you want me to do?''I've just told you.'